How to Design Good Training Practices

by John S. James

Communication Practices is about designing education for everyday life -- where it's usually not possible to have an instructor present. So instead, training practices are used to convey the knowledge from the community to the student. That's how this education is organized.

We have found that useful practices have several characteristics:

(1) They have no material requirements. Instead, they are defined entirely in terms of human interaction.

Of course you can be using the tools and materials of your job or other activity, while doing the practices. You can be doing whatever you ordinarily do. But the practices require only interactions or relationships, not particular materials.

Therefore this education focuses entirely on the training which is its main point -- not on externals like getting materials ready so that learning can begin. And since we all have everyday interactions with others, this work is open to all, not only those who can afford special materials, classes, or other arrangements.

(2) Successful practices are completely integrated with everyday life.

This means you don't have to do anything weird. You may be trying new strategies, but they are entirely within the range of what people use ordinarily. Only you may never have learned them before.

For each of us settles into a repertoire of social interaction styles that has become our comfort zone. This repertoire is part of our personality. Many people have found generally successful interaction styles, but many have not. Few are doing so well that they could not possibly improve.

(3) Practices must give you some immediate feedback on how you are doing.

This is necessary because the practices are usually done without an instructor present to tell you when you were successful and when you weren't.

(4) These practices are all independent of each other.

You can select what practices you want to work with; you don't have to do them in a fixed order, or otherwise group them together. This modularity makes it easy to try this education, as you can experiment as you choose, without having to commit to a fixed program. Also, modularity makes it easier for the practices to be improved over time, since any one of them can be changed and tested by itself, without regard to the effect of the change on any others.

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